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Baseball bat killer found guilty of murdering man during Leeds house burglary

PIC: Scott Merrylees
PIC: Scott Merrylees

A MAN who used a baseball bat to inflict “catastrophic” head injuries on his victim during a burglary at a house in Leeds has been found guilty of murder.

Declan Bickerdike is facing a life sentence after a jury today (Sept 17) convicted him over the death Clifford Amoh, 29.

Bickerdike used the weapon to attack Mr Amoh during the incident in which a gang targeted his home in order to steal cannabis plants.

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Bickerdike and four other men kicked their way into the property on Coldcotes Crescent, Gipton, at 2am.

Leeds Crown Court heard the group had met up before the incident, May 7 2016, to plan the burglary.

Tahir Khan, QC, prosecuting, said the four men went upstairs in search of the plants while Bickerdike remained downstairs.

Mr Khan said it was likely that Mr Amoh was laid on a settee in the lounge when Bickerdike used a baseball bat to strike three heavy blows to the head.

Mr Khan said: “The prosecution say that at the time that he delivered those repeated blows to the head of the victim, Declan Bickerdike must have intended to kill the victim or, at the very least, cause him really serious harm.

“If he had either of those intentions then that is murder according to the law of this country.”

Bickerdike and the four other men had already pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary.

Bickerdike, who was 17 at the time of the killing, claimed that he caused the injuries while acting in self defence when Mr Amoh came at him with a Samurai sword.

The jury was told Bickerdike and the four other men ran from the property and failed to get help for Mr Amoh.

Mr Khan said: “He must have known that the man he had struck three times with a baseball bat was seriously injured and yet the defendant did nothing.

“He simply left the property without raising the alarm when it would have been so easy to dial 999 anonymously for the man he had just severely assaulted.”

Mr Amoh was found laying on the settee with head injuries beside a pool of blood a short time later by his friend.

Emergency services were contacted and a telephone operator gave instructions to try to resuscitate Mr Amoh as he was not breathing.

Paramedics took him to Leeds General Infirmary but he was pronounced dead soon after reaching hospital.

Mr Amoh moved to the UK in 2004 and was known to his friends as ‘Pappi’.

Mr Khan said his friends described him as a “sociable and placid young man.”

He grew a small number of cannabis plants in the upstairs rooms of the house.

Bickerdike was found guilty of the murder charge by a majority of 11-1 after a six-day trial.

He will be sentenced on Wednesday.

It was the third time Bickerdike had been on trial accused of Mr Amoh’s murder.

Jurors were discharged after failing to reach a verdict in October 2016.

A judge dismissed the jury and ordered a fresh trial in February this year.

Bickerdike, now 20, formerly of High Ash Crescent, Alwoodley, was also found guilty of inflicting grievous bodily harm with intent over an attack on a fellow inmate while he was being held in custody in Doncaster.

Mr Khan said Bickerdike attacked his cellmate, Christopher Sanderson, by pouring a kettle of boiling water over him as he slept on July 22, 2016.

Mr Sanderson woke up in “excruciating” pain and suffered burn injuries to his chest arms and back.

Bickerdike later told officers he had inflicted the injuries as he felt his cellmate was a threat to him.

Bickerdike also told a nurse that he had “dared” himself to pour boiling water over Mr Sanderson.